A roll of the DiCE

DiCE Molecules, Sanofi ink five-year deal for drug discovery

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PARIS & SAN FRANCISCO—A five-year global collaboration was announced today between Sanofi and DiCE Molecules, a recently launched privately held company focused on a next-generation approach to small-molecule drug discovery. The companies will work together to discover potential new therapeutics for up to 12 targets comprising all disease areas of interest to Sanofi, and a joint steering committee of Sanofi and DiCE representatives will oversee this effort.
The collaboration covers funding of more than $50 million in equity, upfront, target exclusivity, technology access fees and research services, along with up to $184 million in research, clinical and regulatory milestone payments per target and royalty payments based on annual net sales of each compound developed by Sanofi through this collaboration. The deal is part of Sanofi's Sunrise Initiative, a strategic partnership model that aims to invest in early-stage transformative opportunities that align with Sanofi's expert development and commercialization abilities.
"We are pleased to initiate this collaboration with DiCE and its unique technology platform, which brings the power of selection and enrichment to small molecule discovery," Dr. Kathy Bowdish, head of Sunrise at Sanofi, commented in a statement. "We hope this partnership will help deliver essential therapies against currently intractable disease targets, and help patients who otherwise have been unable to receive treatments outside of the inpatient setting. This initiative will allow our teams to combine their wealth of knowledge in drug discovery and further strengthens Sanofi's commitment to open innovation."

DiCE's technology selects and optimizes drug-like ligands to any given target, and starts with libraries that hold billions of molecules. The technology restores the libraries to their original ligand concentration after each round of screening, revealing the full landscape of binding molecules and allowing them to easily be selected for enhanced potency, selectivity and drug-like properties through testing with proprietary assays. It is thought that this approach could address longstanding chemistry issues and enable monoclonal antibodies to be replaced by oral medicines.
"In the past, targeting protein-protein interfaces with small molecules was not thought possible in a generalizable fashion, especially in the development of orally bioavailable drugs," Kevin Judice, president and CEO of DiCE, remarked in a press release. "Our platform is uniquely positioned to overcome these historical challenges and this partnership with Sanofi reinforces the potential of our technology. DiCE's self-financing business model and distinctive partnership approach will allow us to focus solely on advancing our development programs. We are delighted to be collaborating with Sanofi and its innovation-focused team within the Sunrise Initiative."
Sanofi also announced recently that its Phase 3 monotherapy study met its primary endpoint, showing that sarilumab, its investigational human IL-6 receptor antibody, was superior to adalimumab in improving signs and symptoms in patients with active rheumatoid arthritis (RA) at week 24. Important secondary endpoints, including other measures assessing improvements in signs and symptoms of RA and physical function, were also met.
SOURCE: Sanofi press release

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